[-empyre-] to Paul and to Soyo and Yiyn

High, Kathy highk at rpi.edu
Sun Mar 5 11:31:43 AEDT 2017

Hi Paul,
I love this anthropocene ethics discussion. And agree that we need better
tools to address our intermingled relationships with microorganisms, DNA,
³invasive plants,² ³animal pests,² and other creatures with which we
This is one of the reasons I have been attracted to working within this
area of living materials - this makes bio-art the most compelling area for
me with the most difficult concerns. And yes, these discussions are the
most pressing ethical questions in my opinion. And the combination of
ethics with aesthetics together makes bio-art the most aesthetically and
formally challenging area of art production in my opinion (consider the
³aesthetics of disappointment² of Oron Catts from Tissue Culture and Art -
when TSA presented ³Pigs Wings² a promissory project about biofutures and
our aspirations of the past, and our hope and desires for our futures. And
the disappointment that occurs in-between with the reality of the
materials! See http://lab.anhb.uwa.edu.au/tca/pig-wings/
I absolutely concur with you that we need to step up our citizen
contributions to the ethics boards that are in place such as the ELSI
debates (Ethical, Legal and Social Implications). But I also think that we
need to enable more diy citizen bio spaces and interdisciplinary teams to
truly consider the ethics we will need for this millennium! We need teams
that cross disciplines and include artist, engineers, scientists,
designers, ethicists, politicians, and more to think through our coming
challenges. And I know you are developing this as well through Coalesce!
I thank you for your continued work in this area and love working with you!
Other thoughts? Otter thoughts?

On 27/02/2017, 5:49 PM, "empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on
behalf of Vanouse, Paul" <empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on
behalf of vanouse at buffalo.edu> wrote:

>----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>Hi all, this first reply is to Renate and my next post to Erin,
>You asked specifically whether:
>> From your point of view there needs to be more stringent ethical
>>parameters or ethical tools and I think you mean logistic standards for
>>all researchers (not just solely artists, researchers within the
>>artistic/biological disciplines, and students within these realms) that
>>will have direct effects on humanity, culture and society.
>I didn¹t mean more stringent standards or rules per se.  I¹m thinking
>about a much deeper, multi-disciplinary theorization and implementation
>that for instance we might mean by post-human ethics, or a non-human
>inclusive ethics, or an ethics that considers systems, scales and
>intensities Š an anthropocene ethics.  I¹m being deliberately grandiose
>here because I¹m suggesting an artistic/humanistic endeavour on par with
>that of a scientific project like the human genome and micro biome
>projects. Some of these socio-ethical tools have already been written or
>performed into existence, like by Dominguez or DaCosta, or Zaretsky or
>Zylinska for that matterŠ, but I¹m hoping that we can further and better
>implement and absorb.
>On a related issue, I¹ve had terrific response to the Coalesce center
>from the UB community.  One biology professor and former chair told me
>that he¹d seen alot of research initiatives in his time but ³this time
>the university finally got it right!²  But I¹m still also running into
>the misconception that some have that bioart is just about crossing
>existing ethical boundaries, whereas I want to be clear that bioat has
>primarily questioned and highlighted existing boundary crossings, often
>of massive scale, that are too often obfuscated. We tend to be those that
>make visible.  
>However, again, I don¹t find that traditional ethics are fully capable of
>addressing contemporary issues and thus this toolkit needs updating...
>> On Feb 25, 2017, at 1:15 PM, Renate Terese Ferro <rferro at cornell.edu>
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> Dear Paul, Kathy, and all,
>> We are incredibly happy to welcome both Soyo and Yiyun who I have never
>>met. Of course Paul lives only about three hours from Ithaca so we see
>>him often.  In fact both Tim Murray and I attended the opening of
>>Coalesce the new Biology Lab and Art Studio that opened a couple of
>>semesters ago.  Thanks Paul for giving us an insight into Coalesce and I
>>have some specific questions for you below about ethics.   But at this
>>point I was curious__Soyo and Yiyyun do you have public labs that you
>>create work in and conduct research or do you have personal lab/studio
>>spaces?  Cornell is situated in the middle of a huge university that is
>>highly funded in the sciences.  Last year I proposed that my students
>>and I  do some research with ecology and evolutionary biology hoping to
>>collaborate with one the world renowned scientists who found the eggs of
>>micro-organisms that were thousands of years old layered beneath layers
>>of rock at the bottom of Cayuga Lake. He and his lab nurtured them to
>>hatch.  Needless to say the project that I proposed never got funded by
>>the university. The thing that I noticed about Coalesce was that this
>>lab/art studio inventively appropriatee and reused older vintage lab
>>equipment that was still usable within a space that was between the art
>>studio and the science lab.  There is a brilliant deja vous feeling or
>>Sci Fi feeling to the environment.  It is a sacred space or one that can
>>allow for a creative and scientific mix of potential.
>> Paul I know that this issue of ethics also came up in our panel at CAA
>>New Media Caucus and I wanted to push you on it at least from my limited
>>understanding of the issues.  From your point of view there needs to be
>>more stringent ethical parameters or ethical tools and I think you mean
>>logistic standards for all researchers (not just solely artists,
>>researchers within the artistic/biological disciplines, and students
>>within these realms) that will have direct effects on humanity, culture
>>and society.  Artists have used a variety of  theoretical and critical
>>tools to deconstruct these issues and I think we talked about irony,
>>humor and laughter being perhaps within those categories. Going beyond
>>that though  I am thinking of some of the work by Ricardo Domingues (The
>>Trans-Border Immigrant Tool that conceptually allowed immigrants between
>>Mexico and the US a way to ³look for safety and water² and enjoy poetry.
>> I am also thinking about Beatriz¹ last work ³Dying for the Other.²)
>>Both of these projects dealt conceptually and logistically with life and
>>death.  I think what you might be proposing is the possibility of
>>artists affecting  national and international criteria and standards for
>>the development of ethical tools relating to life¹s matter:  bacteria,
>>cells, DNA, etc?
>> My apology for the simplicity of my questions and I am hoping that they
>>are clear.  It¹s a fascinating proposition the potential for artistic
>>intervention to affect real life policy. The blend between the real and
>>the simulated/fake, amateur questions.
>> Thinking out loud this Saturday Morning and saying hello to Soyo and
>>Yiyn who are probably out on Saturday night.
>> Best to all of you.  Renate
>> ___________________________________
>> From Paul
>> <snip>
>> So, I suppose this would be a good place to mention/discuss my main
>>recent project this year, the Coalesce Center for Biological Art.  The
>>Center was initiated as a component of the Community of Excellence in
>>Genome, Environment and Microbiome at the University at Buffalo. Our
>>mandate is to help address the grand challenge to our social and ethical
>>tools by recent advances in the biotechnology; complementing UB¹s
>>expertise in the life sciences by addressing questions and issues vital
>>to public understanding and participation, but beyond the analytical
>>constraints of most disciplines.
>> Coalesce has been in the works for a few years, but this is the first
>>year fully operational in all aspects.  We now teach interdisciplinary
>>courses and workshops with biological media, offer graduate
>>assistantships and undergraduate internships, support faculty research,
>>and offer visiting artist residencies.  This year¹s residents were
>>selected after a call for proposals in the summer 2016, and have been
>>the center¹s guiding spark: Nicole Clouston (CA), Heather Dewey-Hagborg
>>(US), Kathy High (US), Timo Menke (Se), Zbigniew Oksiuta (US), Byron
>>Rich and Mary Tsang (US), and Lucie Strecker and Klaus Spiess (At).
>> After working in with biomedia for the last twenty years, the Coalesce
>>center and our residents have forced me to think in greater breadth
>>about many issues our field interrogates.  Needless to say, I wouldn¹t
>>have attempted such an enterprise if not for the residency I completed
>>at Symbiotica, with Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr, 2005 in Perth, as well as
>>at Biofilia, 2014 in Helsinki.  The questions that now sit upon my desk,
>>staring back at me, are particularly these ³ethical tools², which I
>>mention in our mission statement.  I¹ve always considered theoretical
>>frameworks to be ³critical tools² and find updating our ethical tools
>>crucial at this stage.  It would seem that many of the funds and
>>incentives for the development of ethical tools have been diminished and
>>compromised since the beginning of the Human Genome Project in the 1980s
>>with its 15% funds devoted to Ethical, Legal, Social Implications (ELSI)
>>program.  Indeed, many of the seeming bedrocks of ethics and precaution
>>have been eroded, like those of the Asilomar Conference on Recombinant
>>DNA in 1975.  For instance, the recent proclamations from the National
>>Academy entrepreneurs that the highly accurate Crisper protocol means
>>that we can now reconsider the ban on human germ-line modification?!  As
>>if the ban were simply because of technical problems!
>> So, can bio-art be an even more explicit participant in ELSI debates in
>>the coming years.  How do we presently conceive of the relationship
>>between ethics and aesthetics?
>> <snip
>> Renate Ferro
>> Visiting Associate Professor
>> Director of Undergraduate Studies
>> Department of Art
>> Tjaden Hall 306
>> rferro at cornell.edu
>> _______________________________________________
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>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
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